Mitsraim (people of Mitsor)
AncientEgyptAncient Egypt
Founded: c. 3000 BC
Government: Monarchy
Ethnicity: Hamite
Egypt served as a sanctuary, then as an adversary, to the people of God.

Abraham, Jacob, and much later, Jesus took refuge here. However, the tribes of Israel were enslaved there for over 200 years before the Exodus.

Egypt has existed in some form for around 5,000 years. Founded by descendants of Ham after the dispersion from Babel, the people were called Mizraim. It is reasonable to assume they arrived there by way of land, along the same route that Abraham would later follow - up the Euphrates and along the coast to the fertile Nile delta.

Nothing is revealed about this movement of peoples, but the words "Mizor," (singular) and "Mizraim" are both translated "Egypt" in English translations. The first is the place name, while the second is plural, indicating the people living there. The root word is "Zor," which means to bind, or confine. A derived meaning is that of a walled city, indicating civilization.[1]

Listed first as a people group descended from Ham[2], the nation is seen as a great regional power in the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This was a period stretching for about 400 years (from Abram at 70 years old to the death of Jacob in Egypt. Abram entered Egypt with Sarai years before Ishmael was born, picking up a slave girl named Hagar, of whom he would have a son.[3]

Famine would arise in Canaan again in Abraham's son by Sarah, Isaac, had grown and married to Rebekah. Unlike his father, Isaac did not visit Egypt, having been warned by God against going there.[4] Years later, his son Jacob would follow his son Joseph into Egypt, where the younger man had become prime minister.[5] The extended family of over 70 people settled in the province of Goshen in the delta of the Nile.[6] Life was good until a new dynasty arose, The tribe had grown considerably and was subjugated into slavery by the new regime.[7]

Another leader of Egypt arose from among the tribes composed of Jacob's twelve sons. Rather than rising through slavery as an adult, young Moses became the adopted son of the Pharaoh's daughter[8]. Groomed to lead, Moses rebelled when he saw the cruel treatment of the Hebrew slaves from which he had come.[9] It would be 40 years before he would return to Egypt. As the spokesman of God, that is, of Yahweh, Moses called down awful plagues upon all of Egypt (though Goshen was spared). Finally the Egyptians gladly paid the Hebrews to leave![10]

In the vast desert south of the united kingdom of Israel, the Amalekites, whose land bordered Egypt, apparently had dealing, perhaps even border skirmishes, with the Egyptians. At any rate, the commander of the Amalekites had an Egyptian slave who he had left for dead in the desert. This turn of events turned out to be the turning point in David's battle against Israel's enemies.[11]

It would be years later, after peace had come to all of Israel, that Solomon would make a treaty with Egypt, taking for his wife one of the Pharaoh's daughters.[12] Though known for its educated elite philosophers, Egypt had nothing on Israel's philosopher king, Solomon.[13] All of the days of Solomon, Egypt served as a refuge to his enemies, but kept up a cordial relation with the king as well. It was not until the days of Rehoboam, that Pharaoh Shishak sent his troops against the now much smaller southern kingdom, Judah. As a result, Egypt at long last recouped the loss of wealth it had sustained in the panic to get rid of the curse Yahweh had brought upon their land.[14]

With the rise of Assyria as a world power, Egypt would use the land of Israel as a battleground in hopes of saving itself from being overrun. Josiah, king of Judah, went into battle on behalf of his fellow Hebrews in the northern kingdom only to be killed in the process.[15] His heir, Jehoahaz, was replaced by another of his sons, Eliakim, and Judah became a vassal state under the rule of Egypt. Jehoahaz would be taken hostage to assure Judah's subordination. The young prince would die there.[16] The sacking of the temple in Jerusalem would not go unpunished, though, as Assyria would be used by God to subjugate even Egypt! Isaiah even went down into Egypt to boldly act out that land's fate -- walking naked in their streets.[17]

Years later, when the Babylonians had finally had enough of their vassal state of Judah (they had taken it from Egypt), the prophet Jeremiah would warn the king and his advisers to surrender and live. But the kings was stubborn, and many died in the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah, though, was kidnapped and brought down to Egypt, where he would die years later[18]. Running to Egypt, though, did not save the conspirators in the end, for Babylon did not stop in Judah.

After defeating Babylon, the Greek empire would spread south, bringing Greek culture to the ancient land. Egypt would then become a Roman province with ties to the Judean vassal state in its king Herod the great. This connection made it convenient place to escape from the cruel kings schemes in 1 BC as Joseph, with his wife Mary and the child Jesus, fled.[19] The young family found many Jews living in such towns as Alexandria, a remnant of Greek occupation.

Despite the large Jewish population, many who became Christians, Egypt would continue to be a symbol of the world apart from God. It would be used along with Sodom as a symbolic name for what had become a decadent religion of Judaism in the latter days of the first century AD.[20]

References Edit

  1. James Strong, Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary, words 04714, 04698, 04692 and 06693.
  2. Genesis 10:6
  3. Genesis 12:10-13:1; 16:1-15
  4. Genesis 26:2
  5. Genesis 41:41-44
  6. Genesis 46:27
  7. Exodus 1:8; 2:23
  8. Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21-22; Hebrews 11:23-24
  9. Genesis 2:11-15; Acts 7:23-29
  10. Exodus 4:19 - 12:4
  11. 1 Samuel 30:13-17
  12. 1 Kings 3;1
  13. 1 Kings 4:30
  14. 2 Chron. 12:9
  15. 2 Kings 23:29
  16. 2 Kings 23:34
  17. Isaiah 20:1-3
  18. Jeremiah 43:6-7
  19. Matthew 2:7-13
  20. Revelation 11:8